Shop at the Winter Blues Farmers Market from 4-7 p.m. Monday (Feb. 23) at the Ramada Inn in Morgantown, and you wont have to wait until summer to plan mouth-watering meals with locally produced meats, vegetables, cheeses, breads and other products.
Working with the West Virginia University Extension Service, farmers from throughout West Virginia and neighboring Maryland counties will turn the Ramada Inn lobby into a one-stop shopping excursion, offering fresh produce, frozen meats and finished foods and goods.
Goat cheese, potatoes, onions and garlic are among the fresh items. Lamb, pork, chicken and beef will be packaged, frozen and ready for consumers to carry home.
You will find a variety of value-added (finished or ready-to-use) farm products. Locally grown tomatoes, for example, are ingredients in jars of salsa. The value-added list also includes sourdough artisan breads, Bloody Mary mix and apple butter. Preston County wool will be available as yarn and as scarves, mittens and hats.
Wool from WVU ewes will be on sale as wool blankets. Cornmealground at the old mill in the famous WVU Jacksons Mill Historic Area in Lewis Countyalso will be among the vendorswares.
Live blues music will add to theopen airshopping experience, said Susan Sauter, a volunteer with WVU Extensions West Virginia Small Farm Center.
The winter market, she said, is a new event for the annual West Virginia Small Farm Conference, which runs from Tuesday through Thursday (Feb. 24-26) at the Ramada Inn. Although the market closes Monday, the local foods theme will season the conference, and the Local Foods Banquet is set for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
The call for local foods went out last fall, and conference planning began to take on a new flavor for both Sauter and Tom McConnell, WVU Extension agriculture specialist and director of WVU Extension Services West Virginia Small Farm Center.
For many weeks, McConnell said they have been tabulating ingredients for menus and making delivery plans between farmers and the Ramada Inn. The market, conference and small farm center are part of McConnells strategy to increase the production and consumption of West Virginia foods.
Local food is big business,he said.It benefits everyone in the community.
The Winter Blues Farmers Market is free and open to the public.
The West Virginia Small Farm Conference is open to the public. The registration fee is $150 for all three days of presentations ($60 for a single day). The Local Foods Banquet costs $20.
For program details, registration forms or additional information, visit WVU Extensions Web site ( www.ext.wvu.edu ) and click on the2009 W.Va. Small Farm Conferencelink. Assistance is also available by contacting Becky Casteel, WVU Extension Service, at 304-293-6131 ext. 4231 or ” Becky.Casteel@mail.wvu.edu rel=nofollow> Becky.Casteel@mail.wvu.edu .